Dog bite cases are common personal injury claims, and Georgia operates under a modified one-
bite law for dog liability. This means a dog owner is responsible for the damages and injuries
done by their dog, including the first bite, if they knew the dog was dangerous. Further, a dog
can be considered vicious if the dog bite or attack was unprovoked or the owner was careless,
such as having an unleashed dog.
However, the law applies a bit differently in a dog park because leashes are optional. There have
been an increasing number of dog parks in recent years, such as Freedom Barkway dog park or
Piedmont dog park in Atlanta. These offer spaces for dogs to run around without a leash, without
their owners having to worry about nearby hazards like busy roads or children running around. It
gives dogs a wonderful time to play and socialize.
Dangers of a Dog Park
Unfortunately, this positive space for dogs still has its risks. Not every dog is suited to the
environment of a dog park, as some dogs are more aggressive, excitable, or unneutered. Puppies
are often very reactive, and they could bite from being frightened. Dogs who are not well
socialized with other dogs could start dog fights, injuring both dogs and owners.
Dogs who are off leash in dog parks where leashes are optional must be well-trained. Though
dog bite cases that occur in dog parks are more difficult to prove owner negligence, that doesn't
mean dogs can bite people in parks and that the owners can’t be held responsible. Responsible
ownership is necessary, especially in leash-optional parks.
How a Dog Park Case Operates Differently Than Other Dog Bite Cases
One of the biggest differences between dog bite cases outside of dog parks and inside is proving
negligence. The easiest way to prove a dog owner should be held financially and legally
responsible for the injuries caused by their dog is that they were reckless or careless. This usually
amounts to failing to properly leash their dog or bringing a dangerous dog into a public space.
Victims of dog bites in dog parks can have a harder time proving negligence of the owner since
this is usually proved in a scenario where the owner allows the dog to be off-leash when it is not
Of course, dog parks remove the legal requirement for leashes. This doesn’t mean dogs are
allowed to bite and injure people with no consequences to the owner. It just means to prove
negligence in case of injury, you must prove that the owner knew the dog wasn’t fit to be in a
dog park but brought the dog in anyway, or that the dog should have been on a leash. Again,
because legally a leash is optional in dog parks, this sort of case would require a heavier burden
of proof than a typical dog bite case.
Liability for Unleashed Dog Attacks in Dog Parks
Owners must show a reasonable amount of care and caution that any reasonable person would
have shown in their position. This means if they were aware their dog was likely to jump on
people, likely to start fights with other dogs, was unsocialized with other dogs, or was unruly or
scared in the area, their dog should either have been kept on a short leash or not been brought to
the dog park. In case of an injury by a dog who wasn’t on a leash in these or other similar
circumstances, a person can claim negligence by the owner.
Though dog bites that occur in dog parks require more legal work to prove the negligence of the
owner, that doesn’t make them impossible to tackle. It’s important to understand your rights as
the victim of a personal injury that is the fault of someone else’s carelessness. Talk to Lamar
Law Office, LLC today.